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"And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Genesis 5:24
       All God ever wanted from the first couple was for them to walk with Him throughout their day. That's what He bids you and me to do as well. In the quiet recess of your conscience, can't you hear Him calling you now? I do. "Jim, take My hand and walk with Me, and I will be your God. I will empower you. I will be by your side, and nothing will be able to move you." What Adam and Eve did by sight, you and I are to do by a living faith.
        Enoch walked with God so closely that God never allowed him to see death and simply took him. That experience of walking with God is available to each and every one of us. I find it interesting that when Enoch had this experience, there was no Bible for him to go by; it had not been written yet. God made it very simple for Enoch, and it is my desire to make it just as simple for you and me. In fact, I believe it can be defined in one sentence. Here it is!
You need only to cultivate an active sense of God's presence with you throughout the day, and then you must be motivated to act on His guidance!!!
        Okay, let's put this together practically so that each one of us can understand how to have that vital walk with God daily.
      God offers each of us a gift, and that gift is the gift of His presence. Unfortunately, most of us have never been taught how to open this most precious gift.
Defining the Gift
        A gift is something that is freely given by one person to another for his benefit. It is something you do not have to earn or merit. This gift is given to absolutely everyone, regardless of race, religion, or creed. Anyone can possess it, regardless of their denomination, non-denomination, failures, or successes. To possess it you simply must allow God to have the preeminence in your life daily. That's it!
Recognizing the Gift
       God has given us an owner's manual; it's called the Bible. It has all the instructions to enlighten our minds and empower our choices for carrying out life on planet Earth. Follow it and you will reap the benefits. Negate it and you will pay the consequences. God has not only given us an owner's manual but also a Coach-the Holy Spirit-to teach us how to apply it in our everyday living. What a God we serve! How on earth can we go wrong?
       There's one other thing God has gifted to humans, and that is a free will, the power of choice. No one can take it from us. It is ours to exercise at will. Liberty to choose or not to choose every day and every moment of the day is a precious privilege. We are not robots or puppets, but free moral agents. Thank you, Lord, for such autonomy and liberty!
Opening the Gift
            "Jim, I am here now! I'm standing at the door to your heart, knocking with truth and love. If you hear my voice and open your heart, I will come in and commune with you and you with Me." (Revelation 3:20) Every day God wants to enjoy intimate fellowship with us. His grace knocks at the door of our heart and then waits for us to open the door. That's our daily personal responsibility; it's an act of faith. The gift of His presence does me no saving good unless I open the gift.
            When I wake up in the morning, and even before I lift up my head, I praise the Lord and open the door to my heart fully. Often, I lay there and just thank God for all the blessings in my life. This must be the case whether I find myself in a penthouse experience or a jail cell. Whether I am on top of the world or feeling the press of despair, God is there for me, period. (Hebrews 13:5,6) When I roll out of bed and my feet hit the floor, I continue to praise my Lord, regardless of my situation, by saying, "Yes Lord, I love you and I just want to give you my life, my heart, my will, myself-I yield it all to You. Now take my life and use it; guide my feet along the way. May your words renew and transform my mind, and may Your Spirit fill me this day." Never do I tire of rededicating myself daily. That's opening the gift. That's allowing Him preeminence in my life, preeminence in my thoughts, preeminence in my words and actions. I'm now committed to filter everything through my Coach-is that you?
        So many go into their day without actually opening the gift. They get into a crisis and then stumble and fall. This does not have to be. It is imperative that we understand that no one and no circumstance can ever steal our liberty of choice to open this most precious gift, daily.
       The dynamic, yet practical example of Jesus is there for you and me. He lived life just as we are called to live it. Mark 1:35 gives us a glimpse of what empowered Jesus' day, "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed," Even though Jesus had demonstrated power over demons and disease, He shows the need of prayer for sustained spiritual effectiveness. If He needed it, how much more so do we. That is why I spend time in God's Word and talk with Jesus in prayer, daily.
        If you are going on a trip, the time to fill the tank with gas, which is power, is at the beginning of the trip, not at the end. There is no substitute for filling the tank at the beginning. I need Jesus every day of my life because as Jesus so beautifully said, "I can of Myself do nothing" John 5:30 ; "I do nothing on my own initiative" John 8:28 ; "I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works." John 14:10 This is where we fail so often. I know that if we were under torture and persecution, and in a jail cell, our focus and our seeking Him would be without fail. It is so often in the 'good times' that we fail to feel our need and open that door-how sad!
        This is how I begin my day, by opening the gift of all gifts. Yes, I compacted this into a few short paragraphs, and I will let God's Spirit whisper into your conscience how you are to apply opening the gift in your daily life. We are all unique, and I'm not trying to suggest everyone must go about it as I do.
        Many try to chew off the whole owner's manual all at once. In my zeal to understand the truth, I tried to deal with the deeper issues (I call them the peripheral issues of Christendom) before I even mastered the basics. This can be seen throughout Christendom today. Many are busying themselves in the theoretical issues, their special dogmas and doctrines, and haven't even received a passing grade in the simple foundation. That simple foundation is found in Exodus 20:1-17. These Ten Commandments are the absolute principles for living, are all-encompassing, and allow for no exception.
        God's first commandments were clear, but man's attempt to control confused its followers with a code of morality that consisted of countless minute rules and regulations. Jesus however, summed it all up in one word, 'love'- toward God and toward your neighbor. Jesus confirms the greatest commandments' timeless application by summarizing them into the two principles of life. Love the Lord your God with your entire being, heart, soul, and mind. This is the foundation upon which life exists and is therefore the first and greatest commandment. And the second is the natural product of the first. Love others as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
        If you were to send off a text message to the throne of grace and ask Jesus to give you a grade on these two basics, what would that grade be? Would you be safe to enter His kingdom? What would your spouse say? How would your children grade you? Or could it be said of you, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity," Matthew 7:21-23. Iniquity is works of self. Jesus is warning against self-deception-a mere verbal profession of Lordship without obedience to the will of God. His will is summarized in opening the gift daily and living out His two great commandments. It is even possible for a self-deluded person to exercise a spectacular ministry, using the authority of the Scriptures and the name of Jesus, without walking in genuine love for God and his neighbors. May this not be us.
        Now that we've done some self-examination to make sure we have more than just a church membership and attendance, let us go out into our day and experience walking with God. It is imperative in our daily walk that we FILTER everything, everywhere, as we LISTEN to our Coach whisper the application of His two principles for living.
Ruled by Emotions
        Every day we are called to honor God, and it's not complicated. God always initiates, and we always respond. That's the simple science of salvation. Let's see how it works.
            I was out the door by 6:00 a.m. and on the road to Telluride ski resort. I had accepted a chauffeur position, one day a week, driving the very wealthy owners from their ski villas to the ski lift. Why would I do a job like this? Eight months out of the year I go hiking twice a week up in the San Juan Mountains. I love to hike, talking with God along the way and staying in shape. However, in the winter those mountains aren't quite as accessible, so I like to ski at least once or twice a week. Unfortunately skiing in Telluride is very expensive. For a senior citizen, it is $121 a day or $856 for a season pass. Too pricey for me! So I accepted the position, which allows me free skiing for the year. I thought it would be quite interesting, and perhaps God could even use me.
        Around 9:30 a.m. a call came in to the dispatch, and they sent me out to pick up a couple. As I arrived, I couldn't help but notice the massiveness of their home. I estimated it to be around eight to ten thousand square feet. I greeted the couple as they came out the front door with their skis in hand. Immediately I offered to help the lady, who was probably in her mid-70s, with her skis. She looked rather distraught. Most people I pick up are excited to be headed to the ski hill, but not this woman. I inquired if she was okay, and that's when she broke down. She began to tell me that last year she was blindsided by another skier who left the scene of the accident. When she woke up, she discovered she had been in the hospital for almost a month, in a coma. It took almost the entire year for her to recover. Now this would be her first time back on the mountain, and you could see the emotion of fear all over her. By now I was driving them to the ski lift.
        I knew the Lord was prompting me to help her. I wrestled for a moment and then mentioned to her that the winter Olympics were going on that very week. I asked her what would happen if one of the downhill skiers allowed themselves to be controlled by fear? If they constantly thought they were going to crash and get injured, they probably would. My suggestion to her was that she had to replace her constant negative thoughts, fears, and emotions with positive thoughts of joy and well-being. As I glanced in the rearview mirror, I couldn't help but notice her husband's queried look. He was probably thinking, "What on earth is a chauffeur doing instructing my wife on how to control her emotions?" You can only imagine that through the years he perhaps had many discussions about this with her, and probably to little avail. Now a chauffeur is stepping her through what others never could accomplish???
          My approach was very simple. I explained to her about the replacement principle. Instead of thinking negative, fearful thoughts, she had to replace them with positive, joyous, pleasant ones. In my explanation, I told her she would not be able to do that. I explained that her habit of deferring to her emotions had become so strong that she needed a 'Power' outside of herself to override her past, and that power was Jesus Christ. She was extremely attentive, and her husband was cautiously attentive. I explained I didn't want to intrude in her life. However, my Jesus would give her a successful day if she would be willing to learn how to surrender to Him and depend upon Him, and not her emotions.
          She asked me how to surrender. By now we had arrived at the ski lift. I asked if I could have prayer with her and step her through the process of exchanging her fears for the empowerment of a God that loved her. She was open; she was eager and an excellent student. I left her with a smile on her face and a Savior by her side. Her husband just stood there in amazement and speechless.
        Later that day the dispatcher sent me out to pick them up. What a hug I received from her, and what a handshake I received from him. For perhaps the first time in her life, she had continuous victory over her emotions-not only a successful day on the ski hill, but also the beginning of a new walk with a Jesus she had never known.
        "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So, we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear,'" Hebrews 13:5, 6. Emotional fears are overcome by the assurance of God's constant presence and the promises He extends to us to supply our every need. In the short time I had with Betty, the Holy Spirit allowed me the privilege of sharing a Savior that saves us, regardless of our past or present. I promised to drop off a book for her at the end of my day. That book was 'Escape to God.' This would take her even further. What a privilege is ours when we do not deny the promptings of our Lord.
        When Jesus knocks at the door of your consciousness, what are you doing with Him? Do you live to honor Him every day? Do you venture out as He whispers His instructions within? God wants us to reflect His image throughout our day. Are you cooperating, not just in your individual life, but also in the lives of others He wants you to touch? Is your prayer, "Lord what would thou have me to do?" Acts 9:6 KJV
       Are there fears, feelings, and emotions in your life that you have not overcome? Then submit them to Jesus and replace them with the opposite. He will be there, whispering in your ear, and all you must do is cooperate. You have the power of choice. Exercise it! You have two ears; learn to listen to that still small voice. As Jesus asks for your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, give them to Jesus again and again until they no longer own you. It's just a matter of saying 'yes' to God and 'no' to self. He's there if you are willing to walk with Him as He directs?
Pushed by Stress and Deadlines
        Often, we allow stress to take us over and deadlines to maneuver us into anxiety that God never intends. The devil has set up this world in such a way as to keep us in a constant state of stress, under deadlines and expectations, that need not be.
        For example, I had a large family tent I wanted to sell on Craigslist. Matthew, my oldest son, is always good about putting these things on the computer for me. I sent him the write-up, and he called for a picture. His schedule doesn't have many openings, so I wanted to get the picture to him very quickly, hoping to get the ad posted that very afternoon. Please note, this is my expectation that I put on myself.
        It was about 30 minutes before dinner, and I was being impressed by the good Lord to wait until after dinner. But I wanted to get it done NOW! Strike one! Have you ever been there? As I laid the tent out in our backyard, again I was impressed by my Savior to set it up further from the house; the afternoon sun would be lowering in the west and shade would begin creeping in, not making for an excellent picture.
        What's going on here? God has advance foresight and He is warning me. Please notice that God always initiates, and it is up to us to respond. At this point, I just wanted to get it done and proceeded to set it up. Strike two!! First, I wanted to get it done NOW, and second, I wanted to get it done MY way.
        There is a beautiful text found in John 15:5: "If you REMAIN in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." I began my day, dedicating myself to God and wanted to honor Him in everything. However, my self-will crept in. How often does this happen to you?
         Right now, I am taking the reins out of God's hands and becoming 'In Charge.' The central issue in the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is 'Who's in charge?' When Lucifer decided to be in charge in heaven, all hell broke out. When Adam and Eve decided to be 'In Charge,' what a disaster they brought upon humanity. Now it's up to you and me to have our turn. Will we choose God, or will we choose our own self will? Will we in the moment be 'God-governed?' or will we be 'man-managed?' That is the central issue of Christianity. Our remaining obedient to Him is of utmost importance.
        So, I hurried up and laid the tent out close to the house, staked in the corners, set up the poles, and called Sally outside to be my assistant. Everything was going okay until I went to put on the fly, which drapes over the entire T-shaped tent. Even though I've set this tent up before, every time my son has been there and assisted me. He was always the one supervising and knew exactly how the T-shaped fly should go on. Try as I would, I could not get it centered correctly. I must have tried six different angles-with no success. Now the shade is starting to creep in and Sally's telling me that dinner is ready. The stress is creeping in. Oh Lord, why didn't I listen to you? I have preached this dozens of times and written books on this, and now I feel abandoned.
        "No Jim, you are not abandoned. Just sit down and study the entire hem of the fly."
        I'm thinking to myself, "I don't have time for this. This is nonsense. Come on Jim, get your act together. It can't be that complicated. You can get it done." So, I did it my way again, strike three!!! Do you ever ask for God's help and then ignore it? The next 10 minutes I blamed the manufacturer, the idiotic instructions, and my own stupidity. I looked over at my wife and could see what she was thinking. I knew what I should do, but I just didn't think I had TIME for that, and I was verbalizing my frustration.
        If the branch abides in the vine and remains, the sap (God's grace) flows, and the branch remains pliable. If the branch doesn't remain or abide in the vine, the branch dries up, becomes brittle, and gets snappy. Does this ever happen with you?
            Even though I had three strikes against me, God was still calling to my heart. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our minds on Jesus-who establishes and fully matures our trust in God. Again, God is calling to my heart. So, I surrendered and said, "Lord help me." He'd been trying to help me all along, but now I was willing to LISTEN and do it "His Way."
        I told Sally to put the dinner on hold. I pulled up a stool, sat down, and began to run the hem of the fly through my fingers, studying it for any clue I could find, when suddenly I came upon a small insignia of the manufacturer. It dawned on me-that must be the front of the fly. Yes, that was it. That must be where the front of the T must go! I jumped up excitedly and called Sally to help; we had it finished in less than a few minutes.
        The failure of all Christianity is the practical application of us not entering or remaining in His presence. Our failure starts with us not listening and moves on to us not cooperating with His gentle voice. We are told in James 1:22 that if we hear but don't act, we are deceiving ourselves. I heard but did not act. God continued to tap me on the shoulder until I responded. Praise God!
In our daily walk with God many of us stray, but God is always there to bring us back on course. What do you think it is going to take to get us to LISTEN and to COOPERATE consistently?
Listening and Cooperating
        I love to hike, and I had been hiking with Harvey many times. We often enjoy not only the activity but also the deep spiritual conversations we get into. This hike was different. We had both of our wives with us and were taking them to a special place Sally and I visited often. It was above Bullion King Lake at an altitude of 12,500 feet, where there were millions of wildflowers. To get there we had to cross a snowfield, and the only person who had not crossed over yet was Harvey's wife, Priscilla. Harvey was out ahead exploring; Sally and I were standing on the other side of the snowfield, waiting. That's when God whispered into my conscience to go stand on the downside of Priscilla in the event she should fall. It would have been easy for me to reason the thought away, but I am learning, ever learning, to allow Jesus to have the preeminence in my life.
        Stepping across the snowfield and taking the downside beneath Priscilla, I explained to her I just wanted her to be safe, should she slip and fall. Priscilla smiled and began to cross the snowfield. When she was almost at the end of the snowfield, it happened. Her downside foot sunk into the snow deeper, and she started to go down. Fortunately, I was there to stop the fall. That fall could have landed her in the hospital, at best. Praise God for His still small voice which is always reaching out to humanity. (Isaiah 30:21)
        He wants to save us not only from ourselves but also from the attacks of the enemy. To enter His saving grace, it is essential that we cooperate with that grace. God's grace is His continual presence in our lives, wooing us, entreating us, beckoning us, and trying to save us in the present-in the here and now. The great God of heaven is never too busy to give us His guidance, to empower us, and to restore us to our rightful calling. Most of us resist this divine influence upon our hearts. If we will stop resisting and begin to tune our ears and surrender our wills, we will experience a daily walk with God as Enoch did.
        Psalms 91: 1, 2 says, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'" The secret place is a constant trust, sustained by continual communion, obtained by grace, and appropriated by a living faith. It is our freedom to choose which reality we will live in-the seen or the unseen, God or circumstances. Which one you choose determines whether you walk with God or walk merely as an individual. Whatever God is whispering to you right now, take time to write it down.
Questions for Discussion
  1. What was it that God asked you to write down?
  2. What percentage of the time do you respond to God as He whispers to your conscience? 25%, 50%, 75% or more?
  3. Do you, throughout your day, recognize God's grace in your life?
  4. How many times a week do you NOT dedicate yourself to God and spend time in His Word and in prayer? (Filling the tank at the beginning of the trip!)
  5. Are you more involved with the peripheral/Side-lines of Christianity while not getting a passing grade in the basics?
  6. Have you mastered God's ten principles for living?
  7. What does it mean to filter your thoughts and emotions through God's Word and His Spirit?
  8. What percentage of the time would God say you truly listen? Or do you have selective hearing???
  9. Why are you afraid to share your faith with others?
  10. Do the higher powers or lower powers rule you?
  11. Do stress, anxiety, and deadlines master you?
  12. Does God abandon you, or do you abandon God?
On your tombstone will it read, "He walked with God"?
Walking With God,
Jim & Sally
                                 Jesus our Shepherd & Savior!!
Empowered Living Ministries